3 Rules for Genuine Engagement in Tech-Enabled Insurance

June 28, 2018 Thea Crelin

Your insurance prospect just chose a competing provider because an online rate tool showed it was less expensive. Turns out it was not, and the customer feels cheated.

Is there any way you could have prevented this—to have been a player in what seemed to be a fun shopping game? Insurance isn’t a game, of course, but a lot of online rate tools make it feel that way, and that could cost you good customers. Worse, it could prevent your customers and prospects from choosing the right coverage for their needs if they do not research and compare the online quotes.

This is where you become a player. You can help customers make informed decisions based on content and engagement. Don’t underestimate the desire for these components. Among auto insurers alone, improved communications and interactions—not price—are credited for a rise in customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. It’s likely these same consumers feel similarly about their health, life and casualty insurance. 

Engagement is no small feat, however, particularly when it comes to preventing alluring technologies from gamifying your prospects’ insurance choices and value propositions. Don’t let the bells and whistles daunt your efforts. There is a foolproof formula, regardless of the competition, comprised of three essential rules we will soon explore.  

But to make best use of these rules, it helps to first better understand how rating tools can compromise a customer’s insurance-selection process, and the opportunity that presents to you. 

The Rating Game

The gaming qualities of online rate tools, while potentially good starting points and entertaining, could distract prospects from making the best decisions for their households.

Think about it: One tool might call up a dozen rates based on limited specifications, such as zip code and age. Price comparing does entail an element of fun, and the calculation might produce rates lower than the customer’s current rate—jackpot! However, these tools do not gather enough information to understand exactly what the customer is looking for at the moment or what he or she may need a year or two down the road. They can’t determine, for example, that the customer requires a rider on his or her homeowner’s insurance policy to cover an inheritance of artwork.

Without these insights, the quick calculation tools aren’t likely to provide accurate rates for needed coverage. Indeed, a prospect who is wowed by a lower rate may find upon further review that the less-expensive policy covers much less, or that it comes with conditions that make it more expensive in the end.

How does a community or even regional insurer compete?

By reaching out to the person who is faced with the decision. This entails more than simply capturing customers while they are in the search; it also requires understanding where they are in the search and the role they are playing at the time (parent, manager, caretaker). It requires engaging with them as individuals and connecting with them on a human level while also positioning your company as an insurance authority.

Successfully positioning value over price means making a human connection—and there’s a nearly foolproof formula for achieving that connection. Now, let’s talk about that formula for success.

Earning Engagement: 3 Badges for Accomplishment

The trick for many organizations is creating connections that transcend online correspondence and transactions. This level of engagement demands a value offering so resonant and meaningful to the customer that he or she seeks to pursue the conversation and talk with you.

I call this the ACE strategy for engagement. 

1. Awareness

You can’t get on the customer’s radar without knowing where the customer is in the buyer's journey. This first means identifying the role the customer is serving as an insurance buyer: Is it as a mother or as a business owner, for example? Then you can track where the customer is on the purchase path. We break the buyer’s journey into a series of steps that are taken along the way. These decisions start with the customer defining the problem to solve or job to be done (e.g. she doesn’t simply need life insurance, she needs to ensure her children will be cared for in the worst-case scenario). After the problem is defined, the customer makes a succession of incremental decisions, from considering the kind of insurance needed, to determining the selection criteria, to ultimately choosing the best provider or carrier. In keeping with the prospect customer’s steps, you can capture her attention with the message that aligns with where she is in her process of awareness.

2. Cruciality 

Once you’ve captured the customer’s attention, you’ve got to act fast and demonstrate the relevant value of your service and company. Ask yourself: What am I giving the customer in return for his or her attention? Keep in mind that prospects and customers seek insurance policies for the outcomes. Focus on explaining the job your individual policies will perform: coverage options for unexpected events, around-the-clock personalized call center or digital tools that enable the customer to estimate insurance needs in the next decade. Timing is essential. The first instructional communication should coincide with coverage kickoff and align with specific coverage (think: “5 Ways to Easily Catalog Your Valuables with Our Insurance Tool”). Also, when crafting these communications, be sure that the company’s relevance is intertwined with the service—you want the customer to remember both the brand and the message. 

3. Echos 

The relationships consumers have with their service providers tend to ease into autopilot, so special attention is required to get them to serve as ambassadors and talk positively about you—but provide that attention subtly. Several influencer software programs are available (including Ambassador or Influitive), plus a range of marketing personalization tools to help you anticipate customer needs. For example, you can monitor user data to detect an uptick in a customer’s login frequency. You could also track response rates to specific offers or cross-reference service activation rates with a neighborhood’s average net worth. These personal analyses serve as opportunities to offer special perks the customer will talk about or to make additional relevant offers to keep that customer loyal. You could also extend invitations through your social media outlets asking customers to share their opinions on new service ideas.

Heck, you can even include a game or two. The informed decisions have, after all, already been made.

Learn more about bringing the human back into the customer engagement process, and how data and analytics can help you.

About the Author

Thea Crelin

Thea is a results-driven marketing leader with a history of integrating digital solutions with traditional experiential, and engagement marketing. She boasts an impressive record of acquiring new clients, exceeding new and existing client expectations, and positively impacting return on marketing investment. Thea's expertise lies in the financial services industry, encompassing B2B and B2C within banking, insurance and investment.

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